NORMAL – By a 6-1 count, Normal Council members approved an ordinance requiring tree trimmers and cutters to obtain a license from the Town before doing work within the community. That measure was discussed and voted on during the group’s regular meeting, held Monday at Normal City Hall.

The measure came to light as a result of an increase in emerald ash borers threatening the health of trees in the community. Their presence was generally followed by an influx of tree removal companies, many of them from out-of-town, going primarily door-to-door in an attempt to drum up business to aid residents of the beetles. Town officials had a concern that citizens wanting to get rid of the borers would be and have been approached by tree removal companies that lack the expertise in removing the borers approaching citizens to do the work. In January, Council members wanted Town Staff to revise the proposed ordinance. Tree trimming services were looking to make sure those soliciting to do the work were certified arborists.

In numerous Midwestern communities, residents who feel they were defrauded by tree trimming and cutter services for removal of infected ash trees have complained to authorities. In an attempt to head off potential fraud, the ordinance was proposed by Town Staff.

Mayor Chris Koos said the Town received input from local tree trimmers and other related companies in putting together the ordinance. City Manager Mark Peterson explained residents can ask a company representative who comes to their door offering to do the work to show them their Town-issued license. Such business owners would be able to get the license from the Town Clerk’s office for a fee. Peterson said those in the market for such service might want to consider looking at competitive pricing.

But Council member Jeff Fritzen said he wondered if the Town should be providing an ordinance for such a situation. He cast the lone opposing vote on the measure.

Measures Concerning Patriot Manor Subdivision Approved: Council members unanimously approved two resolutions and an ordinance regarding the Trails On Sunset Lake Subdivision. The Trails On Sunset Lake Subdivision is an 83 acre development located at the northeast corner of Airport Rd. and Fort Jesse Rd. Council members passed a resolution which authorizes the execution of the first amendment to an annexation agreement with the Town. That first amendment related to the rezoning of almost 16 acres of land west of Canyon Creek Rd. Under an agreement with the Town, that land would be zoned as Single Family Residential. The ordinance passed during this meeting by Council members made that rezoning of that land possible.

The second resolution passed unanimously by Council members approved an amended preliminary plan for a portion of this subdivision. Normal Planning Commission members unanimously approved the second resolution during their regular meeting on March 7.

Prior to the start of the scheduled Council session, a public hearing was held pertaining to an amendment to an annexation agreement regarding The Trails On Sunset Lake Subdivision. Local developers B. J. Armstrong and Jim O’Neil were present to answer questions and were the only ones who addressed Council members, but no major issues were brought up by Council members.

Two New, One Renewed Appointment To CDM Foundation Board: Council members unanimously approved two new appointments, and renewed a current member to the Children’s Discovery Museum Foundation Board Of Directors. Newly appointed to the Board were Carlo Robustelli and Mark Jontry. Reappointed to serve for another term on the Board was Dr. Caroline Halperin.

Robustelli currently serves as the Director of Grants and Foundations at Illinois State University. He previously served as Director of Orange County Operations at Durham Techinical Institute. Robustelli is being recommended to fill a position on the CDM Foundation Board previously held by Linda Bowman. Robustelli’s term on the Board expires June 30, 2014.

Jontry is currently in the middle of his fifth year as Superintendent of the Regional Office of Education. He has been with the Regional Office for nine years. In his post, he serves school districts in McLean, DeWitt, and Livingston Counties. Jontry will be filling a vacancy left by the departure from the Board of Chuck Dennis. Dr. Halperin has been a member of the CDM Foundation Board since August 2010. Jontry’s and Dr. Halperin’s terms on the Board both expire on June 30, 2016.

Liquor Commission To Collect Nearly $140,000 In Back Taxes From Merchant: Council members, serving as the Normal Local Liquor Commission unanimously approved collecting $138,414 in fines from the owner of two liquor stores who is arrears on tax payments to the Town. Owners of 707 Food And Liquor on S. Main St., and 707 Food And Liquors #2 on Beaufort St., put the blame for the problem on poor internal accounting. That problem resulted in the business failing to pay liquor tariffs to the Town for three years, beginning in 2009.

One of the establishments will pay a total of $102,239 to the Town. That amount includes: $77,000 in back taxes, a $1,000 late fee, $4,239 to pay for the cost of a Town liquor audit, and a penalty payment of $10,000.

The second of the two establishments will pay $18,894 in back taxes, $3,042 in late charges, $4,239 to pay for the cost of a Town liquor audit, and a penalty payment of $10,000.

Peterson said the Town should be “a little more aggressive” in following up on other sorts of collection of taxes done by the Town, such as its hotel/motel tax. He said the alternatives the Town faced in this situation were to either collect the cash due to the Town or revoke the stores’ licenses. He added the catch with revocation is that the stores’ owner could appeal the revocation to the State Liquor Control Board.

In addition, Commission members approved liquor licenses of the 59 establishments in Normal licensed to sell alcoholic beverages. In addition, Liquor Commissioners granted approval for alcohol licenses for five catering businesses; nine establishments with outdoor gardens; 11 for businesses that cater to wine tasting; and one para-mutuel operation.

A report submitted to the media by the Town of Normal indicates two local establishments were fined for providing liquor to minors, the result of recent liquor audits conducted by the Town. Meet, Inc., doing business as Fast Stop, was fined $250 for selling to a minor on Oct. 3 liquor audit. The owners of the business were fined $250 for what was the business’ first offense within the past three years.

The other business fined by the Town was Okgo Restaurant Group, LLC, doing business as Moe’s Southwest Grill, 1730 Bradford Lane. That business was fined $350 for selling alcohol to minors during a liquor audit on Feb. 15. The amount the restaurant was fined was the result of Moe’s being four months shy of the Town’s three-year look-back period concerning offenses.

In both cases, the businesses have already paid their respective fines to the Town.

Omnibus Agenda Items Approved: Omnibus agenda items approved by the Council included:

• Approval of minutes of the public hearing held March 4, 2013.

• Approval of minutes of the regular meeting held on March 4, 2013.

• Approval of Town of Normal expenditures for payment as of March 13, 2013.

• A motion authorizing the selection of Indianapolis-based RATIO Architects for design and contract administration services for the pedestrian overpass, south boarding platform, and improvements to the old Amtrak station, and authorizing Town Staff to negotiate an agreement.

• A motion to approve a semi-annual salary schedule adjustment for classified employees.

• A motion to waive the formal bid process and accept a quote from Verizon Wireless for cellular and direct connection services.

• A resolution authorizing execution of an agreement with Clyman, Wis.-based United Liquid Waste Recycling for lime sludge removal.

• A resolution authorizing execution of an agreement with Carlock, Ill.-based Boitnott’s Lawn and Landscaping for “mowing and abatement services,” effective April 1, 2013 through March 31,2015.

• A resolution authorizing the execution of an agreement with Omaha, Neb.-based Ballantyne Strong Inc. for the installation of a digital projection system at The Normal Theater in the amount of $84,010.54 and approval of an associated budget adjustment.

• A resolution conditionally and partially approving the final plat of Patriot Manor Subdivision by expedited process (601 Broadway)..

• An ordinance amending Chapter 25 of the Town Municipal Code – Technical Corrections.

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